2 April 1996

Press Release


19960402 Secretary-General, Expert Group Reports on Public Administration Introduced; Will Be Discussed at Assembly Session on Public Administration and Development

The principle objective of the United Nations programme in public administration is to assist governments of developing countries and countries with economies in transition by improving their public sector capabilities, the Under-Secretary-General for Development Support and Management Services told the Economic and Social Council this morning. The Council decided, without a vote, to transmit that view and others expressed at today's meeting to the General Assembly, along with reports of the Secretary-General and of the Group of Experts on Public Administration and Finance.

The General Assembly will meet from 15 to 19 April in resumed session to have a substantive discussion of the reports introduced today, marking the first time in the Organization's history that Member States will address the relationship between public administration and development. In addition to Member States, it is expected that representatives of the corporate sector will attend. The resumed session is being convened pursuant to Assembly resolution 49/136, which said the meeting should "examine the question of public administration and development, exchange experiences, review the activities of the United Nations in this field, and make recommendations".

Introducing the report of the Secretary-General on Public Administration and Development, the Under-Secretary-General for Development Support and Management Services, Jin Yongjian, said the current era was a critical time for the United Nations as a whole and for the programme in public administration in particular. Resuming the fiftieth session of the General Assembly to consider the question of public administration clearly highlighted the importance of that programme.

The report identified several challenges now facing both the United Nations and its Member States in the field of public administration and development, he said. They included ensuring that public administration activities gained greater visibility and enhancing the Organization's role as a clearinghouse for information and services, while augmenting its position as a global centre of excellence in the field. The Secretary-General stressed

that a constant challenge was to improve administrative systems so as to sustain development and to coordinate United Nations activities to ensure responsiveness to emerging issues.

To meet the challenges, Mr. Jin continued, the Secretary-General offered a number of recommendations that emphasized maintaining the issue of public administration and development on the agendas of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. He further recommended that the United Nations should use the latest information technology in order to become the preeminent source of knowledge in the field. "More importantly, the Secretary-General recommends that a consultative group meet regularly so as to strengthen effective collaboration and coordination among various United Nations programmes in public administration."

The report of the Group of Experts on Public Administration and Finance on its twelfth meeting was introduced by its Chairman, the Minister for Public Administration and Administrative Modernization of Burkina Faso, Juliette Benkoungou. She said that the Group's conclusions focused on two main themes: the role of public administration in development, and the strengthening of public administration capabilities. It had concluded that the role of public administration in development was multiform, as it helped to sustain economic growth, promote social development and put infrastructures in place. It also contributed to the protection of the environment.

In order to fully accomplish that role, she said that public administration capabilities should be strengthened within appropriate administrative structures, including healthy financial management, adequate human resources and better performance-measuring systems.

Among the Group's main recommendations to governments were that they reinforce policy analysis capabilities, orient public activities towards the satisfaction of specific needs, clearly define the responsibilities of the private and public sectors, and promote a favourable atmosphere for small and medium-sized businesses. Governments should also ensure that social programmes were fully carried out, with their impact measured at all levels. The Group recognized the importance of the United Nations in the field of public administration and recommended that the question of public administration be a regular item on the agendas of both the Economic and Social Council and the debates of the General Assembly.

She said that, in light of the critical need for an appropriate international mechanism to support the role of public administration and development, the Group had recommended that it be transformed into a commission on public administration and development, which would be in permanent contact with Member States.

Economic and Social Council - 3 - Press Release ECOSOC/5636 3rd Meeting (AM) 2 April 1996

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Italy said that the Union would make a substantive statement on the matter at the resumed Assembly session, but wished to address technical matters today. The resumed Assembly session would provide an opportunity to assess progress achieved so far in the field. As a follow-up to the Assembly session, it would be necessary to: identify a set of principles for public administration, taking into account the diversity of national experiences; rationalize United Nations structures dealing with public administration; and clarify the role of institutions dealing with public administration and development.

The representative of Morocco said his country was in the process of preparing a draft resolution which should be a good basis for negotiations during the resumed session. After consultations, the text would formally be submitted to the Assembly's resumed session by Morocco's Minister for Public Administration. "We hope that the resumed session will be an opportunity for us all to think about this crucial theme." It was further hoped that the Assembly could achieve consensus on its recommendations on the matter.

Also addressing the Council, a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce said that on 26 March that organization had adopted revised rules of business conduct designed to combat extortion and bribery in international trade, and thousands of companies were expected to endorse those rules or to incorporate them into their own guidelines. The new, more stringent rules covered extortion and bribery in judicial proceedings, tax matters, environmental and other regulatory cases, and legislative proceedings.

He said that the International Chamber of Commerce had provided recommendations to governments in conjunction with the rules, which noted that "scandals involving extortion and bribery, if allowed to continue, could undermine the most promising development of the post-cold war era -- the spread of democratic governments and of market economies worldwide". To promote the new rules, the International Chamber of Commerce would set up a standing committee of business executives, lawyers and academics. National committees in 62 countries would be urged to mobilize support for the new rules.

A representative of the International Public Policy Institute proposed that a day be designated to annually honour public administrators throughout the world who ensured that policy goals were translated into concrete achievements.

The Economic and Social Council will resume its 1996 organizational session on 2 May.

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Economic and Social Council - 4 - Press Release ECOSOC/5636 3rd Meeting (AM) 2 April 1996

For information media. Not an official record.